I would like to take credit for the city council backing off from their incessant clamor of needing more revenue by raising taxes, but, the truth of the matter is, the mayor's city-paid cellphone likely blew its downlink from all the flak pouring in from city business owners. The mayor has admitted the feedback has been intense against his now-withdrawn tax increase idea. I hear he gave up the phone because of overheating problems.
It has taken me over a year of constant hollering for the council and staff to finally admit that they have a healthy chunk of cash sitting in the bank - like nearly $9 million in the general fund balance alone and millions more in several other accounts.
Normal people make adjustments during difficult financial times by cutting spending to ease the impact on dipping into their savings. The city has done the same. Actually, cuts have allowed them to be able to add to their savings over the last five years, but that is coming to a screeching halt as an out-of-control state keeps poking their sticky fingers into everyone's back pocket.
Uncertainty is the biggest player in everyone's budget process. And, in the city's case, Council appears to be more than willing to enter the "Red Ink Zone" wearing rose colored glasses. While that may be reasonable for the short term, especially with such a beefy general fund balance and crumbling roads, the end result can be catastrophic in the event of another downturn or double dip recession as they call it. Every wheel on our economic buggy is loose.
The 2011-2012 city budget is shaping up to be the first "Deficit Spending" budget in years, and while it may be justified, the Council really needs to get a lot more serious with ways to live within this new reality that is settling around all of us.
Folks have been pretty vocal in suggesting fixes and the council may be starting to listen.
Work sessions to hammer out solutions to fix the financial bleeding associated with the golf course, Powerhouse, KART, the Development Services building, the train depot and a host of other "leaks" just have to be addressed - and it needs to start immediately - not on the heels of another state fund sweeping party. Make it happen, Council.
I really liked Council member Keith Walker's offer to waive his city paycheck to go toward other city budget line-items. I would like to see the same offer from the entire Council, including the mayor, but I won't hold my breath.
That reminds me of a little historical aside - I was Mayor-for-the-Day during a city sponsored "Civic Day" back in the mid-1950s. Under the stern guidance of then Mayor Charlie McCarthy, I and several of my Boy Scout buddies (Councilmen-for-the-Day) passed the first "Pay Ordinance" authorizing taxpayer dollars to go directly into the hip pockets of city chieftains. That naughty deed took place in a closet-sized meeting room in the basement of the Mohave County Courthouse.
I will never forget the litany of justification that was heaped onto all us Scouts, as I was dedicated to the concept that public service, especially at the leadership level should be just that - a service - not a paid job. I resisted at first but eventually caved into Mayor Charlie's admonitions - after all, he was the premier car salesman in Kingman at the time, what choice did I really have - I ask you? Fond memory - true story - my bad.
Anyway, all aboard the City Council Red Ink Express - and pray this ride be the shortest in history. Otherwise, some sincere punching of transfer-ticket-out-of-here come election time will be badly needed.